Kenya concerned by South African xenophobic and gang attacks

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Kenya has expressed deep concerns over the xenophobic attacks in South Africa and ordered all its nationals in the country to immediately report any form of threats to their lives to the East African nation’s Johannesburg-based embassy.

Kenya’s Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said on Tuesday the xenophobic attacks targeting non-South African nationals were of great concern to Kenya and all other Africans and must be condemned the world over.

Reports from South Africa indicate the attacks initially targeted economic refugees entering South Africa in search of scarce jobs after fleeing economic hardships at home.

The reports indicated Zimbabwean and Malawian refugees were the main targets.

Kenyan officials said indiscriminate attacks against all Africans were causes of worry.

“We have a large percentage of Kenyans of Somali descent living and working in South Africa. We are therefore very concerned that all other Africans are being attacked,” Wetangula told a news conference in Nairobi.

He said the Kenyan High Commission in South Africa had been given firm instructions to take care of all Kenyans living and working in South Africa.

Kenya’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Thomas Amolo, said on Tuesday that some two Kenyan nationals had reported receiving hate mail and orders to vacate their homes or face the wrath of the mob violence that has been spreading across.

Police in South Africa have arrested at least 300 people suspected of involvement in the attacks, which have killed at least 22 people.

The envoy said no Kenyan national had been killed in the on-going attacks and that the mission staff were on high alert.

Experts have linked the attacks on foreigners to the distortions in South Africa’s labour market.

According to research, foreign immigrants are the preferred source of labour for rapidly industrialising economies as the foreign workers often make limited demands on their employers and often have the capability to be more productive.

Meanwhile, the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, has reported that Nigeria’s President Umaru Yar’Adua will meet his South African counterpart, Thabo Mbeki, in Arusha, Tanzania, Thursday to discuss the attacks on Nigerians in South Africa,

NAN quoted Nigeria’s presidential spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi as saying Yar’Adua had been briefed on the attacks on Nigerians – as well as other foreigners – in South Africa.

“The President feels pained by the distress being experienced by Nigerians in South Africa and has directed the Foreign Affairs Ministry to offer immediate support to victims,” the spokesman said.

At least 22 foreigners have been killed by gangs of xenophobic South Africans rampaging through Johannesburg and its suburbs.

Some 6,000 foreigners, mostly Zimbabweans, have fled the violence.

Mbeki has slammed the attacks as ”shameful and criminal” and ordered investigations into the causes. Panapress .

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